nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic


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Panic in the bakery

I have discovered a new favourite food: the pumpkin cinnamon bun from Glaser’s Bake Shop on 1st Avenue. So light and fluffy and so big and so fattening and yet so lovely. It’s seasonal, so a temporary obsession. I had my eye on Glaser’s for some time, it’s a bit of a time warp shop, looks like it hasn’t been updated since it opened in 1902. When I went in for the first time just last week, I was accosted by the heat of the place, my god, they need something in there, I have no idea how the jolly ladies behind the counter could stand it. I felt like I had walked into a 1950s TV programme, maybe ‘Call the Midwife’ (recently watched on HBO) or Open All Hours.

I am entranced by the array of lardy cake stuffs which consist mostly of buns, incredible large fluffy meringue pies (lemon of course, none of your lime nonsense) and the biggest tray of brownies I have ever seen. E and I are standing there, our eyes open wide and our months gawping. I am shaken out of my trance by a fellow shopper, a woman with her 3-ish something child in a buggy. The conversation goes something like this:

“How old is she?”, says the lady, pointing at E.

“She is 7, 7 and a half” I reply in my best English accent.

“What school does she go to?”

“X school” I respond.

“What grade is she in? Did she start in Pre K?” further interrogates the unusually interested lady.

“Err, no she just started in second grade”, I respond, surprised by the directness and interest in the bakery queue.

At which point, she turns away from me, and starts on the next person in the queue, who has just the one child in a buggy. I am bemused. What was that about? Then it dawned on me as I overheard the rest of her interrogations. She was asking other mothers about schools because she was applying for her daughter and was relaying the trauma of trying to get application forms from local private schools where the competition is tough. She told tales of dialling over and over to get an answer from admissions departments on the day after Labor Day.

She wasn’t interested in me because I hadn’t gone through it. If she’d thought about it, she would have asked where did E go in pre K (equivalent kind of to reception in a UK primary school). But she didn’t, so I listened, amused at the panic in the bakery and wondered how many other stores she had had that same conversation that day. For me, I was just relieved to leave the oppressive heat of the place and munch my lovely pumpkin cinnamon bun with a nice cup of tea.

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NYU sugar daddies

When I went to university it was free, in fact I got a grant to pay for accommodation and living expenses. It wasn’t much, but I did leave university with no debts. There were no tuition fees back then either. In last week’s New York Post, which is a bit like the Daily Mail crossed with the Sun, they were very excited at the high number of New York University students who had enrolled with a sugar-daddy dating site called seekingarrangement.com. The article is pretty superficial and full of comments from people who only gave their first name, probably out of sheer embarrassment. The Sugar Daddy Blog on the front page of the website rather cleverly wrote about the high numbers of students and provided the figures by university to the media which resulted in some great free publicity as not only did the Post pick it up, but USA Today, Cosmopolitan and the Huffington Post.

I looked up the cost of undergraduate tuition at NYU and for one semester in the Arts and Science Faculty, the fees are a staggering $22,000. Multiply this by three for the three semesters per year and then over three years and you get tuition fees of around $200,000 just to get a degree! And of course, don’t forget, they have to then live, so it’s no wonder that students here in New York need to work or find some way of earning cash through sites like this one to get by.